'As the Health Select Committee has made clear, modifications to the Health and Social Care Bill are needed if the government’s health reforms are to succeed. Today's report includes a number of recommendations that would improve the Bill, especially around the membership and governance of GP consortia, a phased approach to implementing GP commissioning, and stronger mechanisms for promoting joint working between health and social care.
'The Committee's report is also a helpful reminder that the key priority for the NHS over the next few years is to deliver the £20 billion in productivity improvements needed to maintain quality and avoid significant cuts to services. The stakes are high. A pause for reflection will serve the NHS, its staff and patients well by allowing a sensible discussion about how best to deliver the reforms the health system needs, while maintaining the focus on how to meet the financial challenge it faces.
'The real choice is not between the status quo and change, but between the right reforms, executed well or poorly planned reforms that could undermine NHS performance. Reform is necessary, but it should be based on a staged approach to implementation, a clearer understanding of where and how far to extend competition, and clearer lines of accountability than those currently proposed in the Bill.'